Instructional Science

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 157–175 | Cite as

Stereotype threat and gender differences in chemistry

  • Cijy Elizabeth Sunny
  • Gita TaasoobshiraziEmail author
  • Lauren Clark
  • Gwen Marchand


Stereotype threat theory (STT) offers one explanation for achievement differences in math and science for both women and minority students. Specifically, STT posits that the perceived risk of confirming a negative stereotype about an individual’s identity group acts as a psychological burden that negatively impacts performance. This study examined the impact of stereotype threat (ST) on gender differences in chemistry achievement, self-efficacy, and test-anxiety using a four-group, quasi-experimental design. 153 introductory-level college chemistry students were randomly assigned to one of four ST conditions including an explicit ST condition, an implicit ST condition, a reverse ST condition, and a nullified condition. Results indicated that there were no gender differences by ST condition; however, overall, the men had higher self-efficacy and lower test-anxiety than the women. An analysis of open-ended questions asking students about their intent to major in chemistry, beliefs regarding barriers to their achievement on the chemistry test, and gender differences in opportunities and mental capacity to achieve in chemistry provided insight into the quantitative results. Implications of our findings for future research on ST are discussed.


Stereotype threat Chemistry Gender differences Self-efficacy Test-anxiety 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cijy Elizabeth Sunny
    • 1
  • Gita Taasoobshirazi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lauren Clark
    • 2
  • Gwen Marchand
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Quantitative and Mixed Research MethodologiesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of Developmental and Learning SciencesUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational Psychology & Higher EducationUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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